Dr Leah Williams

B.Sc.(Hons) MRes PhD


Scientific Officer

My background is in ornithology focusing on conservation and behavioural ecology. I joined Chester Zoo in September 2015 as the Scientific Officer, prior to this I worked for two years as a Conservation Scientist for the RSPB working on seabirds, particularly little terns.

For my PhD I studied the behavioural ecology of Gouldian finches, focusing on personality traits and leadership behaviour at Liverpool John Moores University. Previous research projects include the impact of blood parasites on the immune response in yellowhammers and the influence of habitat structure on understory forest birds in selectively logged forest in Borneo as part of my Master of Research at the University of Leeds. I conducted my undergraduate degree at the University of Liverpool and I conducted my research project on play in two species of Macaque at Chester Zoo.

As the Scientific Officer at Chester Zoo my role is to facilitate the scientific activities at the zoo. I work with the curators and animal teams to identify and prioritise potential projects, I supervise research students and deliver lectures on zoo research.

An understanding of the natural world and what's in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfilment.

- Sir David Attenborough

Partners and Collaborators

  • Centre for Conservation Science, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University

Key publications

King, A. J., Williams., L. J., Mettke-Hofmann, C. (2015) The effects of social conformity of Gouldian finch personality. Animal Behaviour, 84(1), 159-165

Edwards, D. P., Gilroy, J. J., Woodcock, P., Edwards, F. A., Larsen, T. H., Andrews, D. J. R., Derhé, M. A., Docherty, T. D. S., Hsu, W. W., Mitchell, S. L., Ota, T., Williams, L. J., Laurance, W. F., Hamer, K. C. and Wilcove, D. S. (2014), Land-sharing versus land-sparing logging: reconciling timber extraction with biodiversity conservation. Global Change Biology, 20: 183–191.

Williams, L. J., King, A. J., Mettke-Hofmann., C. (2012) Colourful characters: head colour reflects personality in a social bird, the Gouldian finch. Animal Behaviour, 84(1), 159-165

Sueur, C., King A. J., Conradt, L., Kerth, G., Lusseau, D., Mettke-Hofmann, C., Scaffner, C. M., Williams., L. J., Zinner, D., Aureli, F. (2011) Collective decision-making and fission–fusion dynamics: a conceptual framework, Oikos 120, (11) 1608-1617

Gove, G. Williams, L. J., Beresford, A. E., Roddis, P., Campbell, C., Teuten, E., Langston, R. H. W. & Bradbury, R. B. (2016) Reconciling Biodiversity Conservation and Widespread Deployment of Renewable Energy Technologies in the UK, PLoS ONE, 11(5): e0150956.

Projects I'm involved in

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